Saturday, January 5, 2019

Providencia: Great for an Out-of-the-Way Getaway

The locals call the island Providence, though now that it belongs to Colombia, it's officially Providencia

If you’re looking for a vacation on a beautiful island full of friendly people but not many tourists, give Providencia a try. Providencia is a small island off the coast of Nicaragua. Although it belongs to Colombia, the culture is more Caribbean, which the inhabitants are quick to point out. English is the predominant language here, which certainly made it easier for us. My first observation was how uncrowded the anchorage was – only three other boats – considering how many people we spoke with in Panama said who they were headed here. The island is kind of in the middle of nowhere, so I guess they just bailed or bypassed it. During our time here, numerous boats did pass through, but few stayed. Too bad, as it’s an incredibly charming place. The main anchorage is off of the main town of Santa Isabel. Town might be stretching it a bit, being quite small, but they had everything we needed: grocery stores, restaurants, bars, rental scooter shop. There’s a public dock for easy access, and so appreciated, since sometimes it can be quite difficult to find someplace to put in to come ashore. Actually, what with the lighted channel markers lining the way into the bay and the free dinghy dock, the hardest thing about checking in was finding Mr. Bush, the agent you’re required to use for checking in and out. After some wandering (Mr. Bush doesn’t give the best directions, but some friends had provided a photo of his office, which made finding it easier), we were officially arrived in Providencia. [FYI: To reach Mr. Bush’s office, come in to the public dock (open square just north of the long ship dock), go right for one block, and take your first left. Walk up the hill, past the commercial area (several grocery stores, scooter rental, restaurants, bank), until you see an orange and white building on the right-hand side of the road with a store on the ground floor and a balcony above. Go up the stairs to the balcony and knock on the door – that’s Mr. Bush’s office.] Ferries and flights arrive from San Andrés daily, so there are tourists, but it’s a much lower-key tourism than in San Andrés. There are numerous guest houses (posadas), small hotels, and boutique resorts scattered around the island, the greatest concentration around Bahia Aqua Dulce (Fresh Water Bay). We were here for six weeks waiting for weather to head further north, so we got to see quite a bit, which I’ll talk about in upcoming posts.
Santa Isabel waterfront from the anchorage

Ship dock at Santa Isabel, the fast ferry from San Andres at the end
Brightly painted benches lining the sides of the waterfront square reflect the island's marine heritage
Mr Mac anchored in Providencia with the steep, craggy hills in the background

Threatening weather out beyond the anchorage off of Santa Isabel

Friday, December 21, 2018

Update on the Awesome Stinging Cauliflower Jellyfish

Be amazed at the complexity of the stinging cauliflower jellyfish

I previously did a blog post on the stinging cauliflower jellyfish, a species we saw in Bocas del Toro. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a camera when we first saw it, so there were no pics of this incredible creature. However, last winter, out in the dinghy at Tierra Oscura area, we encountered dozens of the huge jellyfish-eating jellyfish. I took these photos by sticking my underwater camera over the side of the dinghy. There was no way I was going in the water with these beasts!Consider that the bell portion of the jellyfish is about the size of a basket ball, and those tentacles extend forever below.
Those fish are not caught, but swimming amongst the tentacles

Just a beautiful image of the bell as it pulsates

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Slog to Providencia

Mr Mac anchored of the beautiful Providencia hills

After our time in San Andrés, it was time to move on. Actually, it took two tries to get out of SA. Our first attempt was thwarted by the winds and seas. We thought we could slog through the 50+ miles to the northeast, but it only took us twenty minutes outside of the San Andrés lagoon to realize that it wasn’t to be. The second shot a week later worked – better weather, we left a couple of hours earlier than previously, and we staged by anchoring in the outer anchorage so we wouldn’t have to weave our way through the crowded inner anchorage in the dark (since we left at 4 am). Seas were only 3-4 feet, totally doable. The wind was brisk and we were sailing along at up to 6.6 knots…just not in quite the right direction. Consequently, we were fifteen miles out when we came abreast of the island midafternoon. Slogging to the east, we managed to arrive before sundown. The well-placed and well-lit channel markers would have made it possible to enter after dark if necessary, but we never like to do that until we know an area. Luck was with us, and we dropped the anchor beneath the verdant hills of the island just before sunset. Beautiful day and beautiful destination.

Providencia waterfront